Academic journal article College Student Journal

Using Alumni Perspectives for University Evaluation and Planning

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Using Alumni Perspectives for University Evaluation and Planning

Article excerpt

This article describes the process and results obtained from an alumni survey administered at the University of Wisconsin-tout. Comparisons are made to similar surveys that have been implemented at other universities. The survey was administered to undergraduate and graduate alumni who graduated one year or five years earlier. Of the 2,763 alumni that were sent the survey, 34% responded. As found in previous research, alumni were satisfied with their choices of majors and considered their education to be worth their investment of time and effort. Lowest ratings were in the areas of academic advising and course availability.

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This article describes an alumni survey administered at the University of Wisconsin-Stout designed to improve the educational experience of our undergraduate and graduate students. Similar surveys have been implemented at other campuses. Previous research indicates that there are many areas that undergraduate and graduate alumni identify as strengths of their educational experience, and many areas that are identified as opportunities for improvement. This article also discusses how UW-Stout has addressed the limitations of previous research in this area.

Strengths

Areas identified as strengths in previous research include: overall satisfaction of the program and field of study (Belcheir, 2001; Davidson-Shivers, Inpornjivit, & Sellers, 2004; Ducharme & Stratton, 2001); would attend same undergraduate institution again; satisfaction that education was worth it (Hennessy, 2008); faculty qualities (Belcheir, 2001; Davidson-Shivers et al., 2004); and library facilities (Ducharme & Stratton, 2001). In the area of overall satisfaction with the program, students reported high ratings on satisfaction with their choice of major. Belcheir (2001) reports that 75%-80% of graduates identified that the core courses of their education increased their skills. This includes their critical thinking skills, a broadening of their knowledge, communication skills, and a perception that the material was beneficial beyond college. In addition, Ducharme and Stratton (2001) reported a mean rating of 3.91 (5 point scale) on questions relating to their field of study. And, the students rated the overall value of their education positively (3.93). Students who were one-year graduates had significantly higher ratings than those who were six-year graduates for their field of study and overall value of education. Davidson-Shivers et al. (2004) also reported an overall satisfaction with the programs in which alumni participated. For the question "In general, the Instructional Design program--my knowledge and skills in Instructional Design," the mean rating was a 5.78 (1 = did little to, 6 = increased).

In regards to attending the same institution again, a survey was conducted by the American Council on Education which reported that 78% of college graduates would attend the same undergraduate institution if they could go back and do it all over again (Hennessy, 2008). Hennessy also found that the vast majority of college graduates (98%) believed their education was worth it. This was after considering the time and money required to attend.

In the area of faculty qualities, respondents reported high ratings on questions dealing with overall knowledge, quality, friendliness and supportiveness (Belcheir, 2001; Davidson-Shivers et al., 2004). Specifically, Belcheir (2001) reported three faculty qualities that were rated positively: generally interested in the welfare of the students (84%-89%), faculty were outstanding teachers (79%-83%), good communication between faculty and students regarding student needs and concerns (70%-72%). Davidson-Shivers et al. (2004) reported positive ratings about faculty's currency of knowledge, approachableness, and supportiveness. Respondents were asked to rate seven components of the university, three of which had a focus on faculty: quality of instruction, course content, student support services. …

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